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Indian cricket team targets dominant end, Sri Lanka eye history in Visakhapatnam

Sri Lanka have a good chance to secure their first-ever bilateral ODI series win in India, but they face an uphill task to bounce back after being hammered by Rohit Sharma’s third double century in Mohali.

india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Dec 16, 2017 18:01 IST
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Hindustan Times, Visakhapatnam
India vs Sri Lanka,Rohit Sharma,Visakhapatnam
Stand-in Indian cricket team captain Rohit Sharma, who hit a double century in Mohali, will look to continue his blistering form in the decider against Sri Lanka at Visakhapatnam.(PTI)

Before the start of the series between India and Sri Lanka in November, all the talk was centered around yet another 9-0 ‘tour wash’ for India. However, despite all odds, the inexperienced Sri Lanka side has put up an improved performance. They drew the Kolkata and Delhi Tests and bowled well in Dharamsala to register a seven-wicket win in the first ODI. (INDIA vs SRI LANKA FULL COVERAGE)

Rohit Sharma’s record double ton in Mohali has taken the series into the decider at the ACA-VDCA stadium in Visakhapatnam. For Sri Lanka, it gives them a chance to secure their first-ever bilateral ODI series win in India.

Angelo Mathews the key

With scores of 25* and 111*, Sri Lanka’s batting revolves around Angelo Mathews. The major concern for Sri Lanka, though, will be the bowling. After a superb performance in Dharamsala, they fell apart in the Mohali ODI by leaking 147 runs in the last 10 overs.

(Read | MS Dhoni and his super special connection with Visakhapatnam)

Unlike Dharamsala and Mohali where the weather was cold, the weather in Visakhapatnam has been hot and sunny. Thisara Perera, Sri Lanka’s skipper, said in the pre-match press conference that the weather here was “Sri Lanka-like” and that it gives them a great chance to rectify the errors in the second ODI.

“I hope we will be able to do something special as the conditions here are similar to what we find at home. We failed to execute bowling plans in the second game. We have spoken about it and I am pretty certain the bowlers will deliver,” Perera said.

(Read | How India’s enviable record in deciders boosts chances ahead of Sri Lanka ODI)

Tying the loose ends

For India, the Mohali victory highlighted the ability of the team to bounce back strongly. Rohit Sharma’s side though will want to plug certain weak areas in a bid to clinch their eighth consecutive bilateral series win.

The middle order flopped in Dharamsala and did not get a chance in the Mohali ODI. With only one match remaining, Dinesh Karthik and Manish Pandey will be determined to do well. Ajinkya Rahane practiced for one hour against Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal and the off-spin of Shreyas Iyer. The right-hander, who scored four consecutive fifties as an opener in the series against Australia, might be in the reckoning.

(Read | Lasith Malinga not picked in Sri Lanka T20 squad vs India, Suranga Lakmal rested)

Washington Sundar, who made his debut in Mohali, skipped the practice session as he was unwell. With Kuldeep Yadav getting a decent session, India could go for two wrist-spinners on a deck bereft of grass and sporting a dry look.

There is plenty at stake for both teams. A win for Sri Lanka will not only help them create history, but give Perera’s side a high point in a wretched year where they have lost 22 out of 28 ODIs, including 5-0 whitewashes to South Africa, India and Pakistan.

For India, a win will be a fitting end to a magnificent summer of dominance but a loss could disturb the momentum that has been building ahead of the South Africa series starting in January 2018.

First Published: Dec 16, 2017 17:51 IST